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Since I broached the topic of pet peeves last week . . .

A couple of days ago, I had a fairly appalling experience. A well-educated, articulate member of my profession committed a faux pas that qualifies as my all-time, number one, no worthy competitor pet peeve: I call it my “redundant pronoun pet peeve.”

I have been hearing it with increasing frequency and from some very surprising sources. Recently, I have also noticed the error more and more often in written documents, especially blogs.

Here’s an example:

“John, he went out to the parking lot to retrieve an item from his car.”

In that sentence, “he” is improper. “He” is a pronoun that can be substituted for the noun, “John,” in that sentence.

It is a personal pronoun because it refers to a person, “John,” and indicates gender (male). More specifically, it is a subjective personal pronoun that can serve as the subject of the sentence. Other subjective personal pronouns are:

  • I
  • you
  • she
  • it
  • we
  • you
  • they

The subject of the sentence above is “John” so the sentence should read: “John went out to the parking lot . . .”

When a subjective personal pronoun is used, it takes the place of and stands instead of an alternative subject. For variety, assuming that the reader will understand that “John” is the subject to which the sentence refers, the sentence could correctly be structured this way: “He went out to the parking lot . . .”

But including both “John” and “he” in that sentence results in the redundant use of the subjective personal pronoun which is completely superfluous and grammatically incorrect.

I don’t know why this error seems to be rearing its ugly head more and more, especially among folks who should know better. But every time I hear or read a redundant pronoun, the result is the same as sitting at the dinner table for Thanksgiving with the second cousin twice removed who insists upon scraping his fork across his front teeth with every third bite. It is jolting to the ear or eyes.

Articles on this topic frequently mention the “lose” vs. “loose” mistake which I have also seen more and more often in recent months. But I have noted instances of redundant pronouns at least as frequently.

If your word processing software includes a grammar checker (as do Microsoft Word and Corel Word Perfect), it will detect this error and suggest a correct alternative wording.

Avoiding the “redundant pronoun pet peeve” is one simple, but effective way to assure that your writing and public speaking are impeccable and you garner the respect of your readers or audience.

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